A basic proposition of the theory is that leader actions to correct any deficiencies in the interving variables will improve group performance. A leader who fails to recognize opportunities to deficiencies in key intervening variables, who recognizes the opportunities but fails to act, or who acts but is not skilled will be less than optimaly effective. An ineffective leader may make things worse bau acting in ways that in crease rather than decrease the deficiency in one or more intervening variables. For example, a leader who uses coercive influence tactic may reduce subordinate effort.
Table 6-4 summarizes possible short – term actions to deal with deficiencies in the intervening variables. Leaders may influence group members to work faster or do better quality work (e.g., by offering special incentives, by giving an inspiring talk about by importance of the work, by setting challenging goals). Leader may increase member ability to do the work (e.g., by showing them better methods for doing the work, by clearing up confusion about who is responsible for what). Leaders may organize and coordinate activities in a more efficient way (e.g., by finding ways to reduce delays, duplication of offert, and wasted effort; by matching people to tasks better; by finding better ways to use people and resources). Leaders may obtain resources needes immediately to do the work (e.g., onformation, personnel, equipment, materials, supplies). Leaders may act to improve external coordination by meeting with outseders to plan activities and resolve conflicting demand on the work unit.
The model does not imply that there is only one optimal pattern of managerial bahevior in any given situation. Leaders usually have some choice among intervening variables in need of improvement, and different patterns of behavior are usuallay possoble to correct a particular deficiency. The overall patterns of behavior by the designated leader and other group members is more importent than any single action. In this respect, the model similar to Stewart’s (1976) “choices” (see Chapter 3). However, a leader whose attention is focused on interveningvariables that are not deficient or not important will fail to improve unit performance.
Some aspects of the situation limit a leader’s discretion in making changes and reacting to problems. These influences are similar to Stewart’s (1976) “constraints” and Kerse influences are similar to Stewart’s (1976) “constraints” and Kerr and Jermier’s (1978) “neutralizers.” The extent to which a leader is capableof doing something in the short run to improve any of the intervening variables is limited by the leader’s position power, organizitional policeis imposed by top management, the technology used to do the work, and legal – contractual restrictions (e.g.,labor-management agreements, contracts with suppliers, requirements mandated by government agencies). Constraints may prevent a leader from rewarding or punishing members, changing work assignments or procedures, and procuring supplies and equipments.